Latvian Church in the World

Latvian Church in the World

Rev. Dr. Fritz Traugott Kristbergs,
 “Differentiation and Identity: Towards an Understanding of Ethnic Ministry”
(D.Min. dissertation, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1996), chapter 2

The history of the Lutheran church in Latvia may be seen as a process of differentiation from the image of the dominantly Germanic church of the Reformation.  This process culminated in the formation of  the Latvian Lutheran church of independent Latvia.  The increasing separation of the Lutheran church from its German antecedents corresponded to the increased integration of the Latvian Lutheran church with the emergence of a distinct Latvian consciousness and identity.  During the exile after the Second World War the church became an even greater factor in defining and maintaining  Latvian cultural identity.

The increasing degree of differentiation between the German Lutheran church and the evolving Latvian Lutheran church can be seen in several areas of church and cultural life.  Translation of the Bible in Latvian and the publication of Latvian language hymnals, prayer books and sermon collections were major factors in the development of both a separate Latvian Lutheran church and a Latvian national consciousness.  Systems differentiation occurred in the democratization of church life, specifically in the developing rights of parishes in relation to the German barons and in the separation of administrative authority between the German and Latvian churches.  The evolution of a Latvian Lutheran church may be characterized by its increasingly high degree of differentiation between Germanic cultural and ecclesiastical influences and the decreasing level of differentiation between the Latvian Lutheran church and the Latvian nation.

For more information on the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, visit the LELBA website.

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